Workforce planning has been discussed within organizations since the rise of temporary staffing in the early 1990s, when data was managed via an Excel spreadsheet, only to became obsolete as soon as it was entered. Now, with technology, real-time data and the ability to resource a project with a variety of worker classifications, work can be completed with the most efficient processes at lower costs.

How? Consider this example recently shared with me: An organization took a development project, sourced the proprietary code development with its employees and distributed the QA and creative work via the Upwork community, completing the project faster and at a lower cost than utilizing traditional contingent sources. After several such examples of successful project resourcing and distribution of work resulting in significant time and cost savings, this organization suddenly was considered an integral part of the company’s overall workforce planning as a strategic partner to the business side of the organization.

Welcome to total talent management. SIA defines total talent management as an emerging model of talent or workforce management that includes an organization’s management of “permanently hired” workers as well as “contingent” workers. With the rise of the human cloud providers and alternative ways of dividing the work, total talent management is looking more like a progression toward what one day might truly provide the kind of data and analytics to do workforce planning in a way not done before.

Many organizations are utilizing methods to maximize their talent supply chain but not in a centralized fashion one might expect of total talent management. But that doesn’t mean it’s not getting there. Human resource business partners are working more with their hiring managers to pull in alternative sourcing channels that provide ways to distribute the work as well as incorporating alternative sourcing channels.

Imagine if the groups managing direct “permanent” hiring, those managing the contingent (agency temps, independent contractors, statement-of-work contracts, and payroll workers), and those working with alternative talent channels — often called “online staffing,” “crowdsourcing” or “human cloud” — came together and were able to analyze the data to make real workforce planning suggestions that would be part of the overall business strategy. When that level of collaboration and strategic planning hits talent management and acquisition, the roles of these individual groups could become the strategic powerhouse within most organizations.

Embrace the new. Such cases as the one I mentioned in the introduction need not be isolated projects. Look around you and consider how you handle many of your projects; you might find there are many ways to manage them. If you are a mature contingent program, peel off the layers of “what we have always done” and invite your business partners and HR teams to look for ways to make a bigger impact within your organization. If you are a fast-growing group with managers accustomed to doing what they want and sourcing from their own contacts, try providing more structure to reduce the risk but still helping them get their projects completed.

In this scarce talent market, it is time to band together and look for other ways to get the work done. Share your data with the HR business partners who directly support your business. Bring your HR or RPO group to the table to see if there are ways to help them source the work differently. Look for ways to coexist and form a winning team that can take more of a strategic approach at acquiring and managing the talent supply chain and bring your organization closer to building a workforce planning strategy that will serve the company’s objectives and provide a competitive advantage today and in the years to come.